Juan Imaz in beBee in English, Startups, Business Co-Founder and Chairman • beBee Jun 1, 2017 · 5 min read · 2.8K

The Importance of Flexibility and Empathy in Business

As we make way for the robot revolution, we increasingly discover that the most important business skills come from decision-making using empathy, flexibility and patience. In today’s society where many hold university degrees and have years of experience, the differences can be found in our abilities to use these human social skills in making the best choices for development and improvement. The people who can think and act sensibly and wisely to improve and better whatever the situation they are in are the ones who will thrive in this digital society.

The Importance of Flexibility and Empathy in Business

Empathy goes hand in hand with development

To openly engage in new ideas for business development you must have empathy and understanding. New ideas, regardless of their value, must be shared and encouraged in the workplace in order to find the best ideas. Success stems from ideas, and in order to have those ideas created, heard and discussed you must possess empathy. In order to achieve you must plant seeds, nothing ever grows or changes without seeds. You must allow your workers and customers to give you ideas and feedback in order to have these seeds.

¨When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.¨ 
Stephen Covey, Educator, Author, Businessman and Keynote Speaker

Especially in order to succeed as a startup you must take on what others tell you and see things from a different perspective, as if you were in their shoes. You must be able to appreciate, understand and share those feelings of others. ¨Empathy is a hard business skill that’s absolutely critical to the bottom line.¨  This empathy must be directed at your customers, workers, partners and all who you are working with. Greater and deeper relationships are built upon feelings of trust and feelings, which is why in order to have long-lasting and genuine relationships you must have empathy. A key ingredient to success is empathy.

Startups often face dilemmas of needing to change or alter the product, the message, the goal, the idea, the workers, the concept, the brand, the voice among many other aspects. Startups are constantly changing, adapting and learning. Startups are faced with many challenges that can mean being faced with new situations, problems or opportunities. As a person you must have the capabilities of instantly thinking ¨thinking outside of the box¨ in order to feel empathy so that you can already visualize the various outcomes. Only then can you analyze your best options. Often from these challenges you can take advantage of opportunities, if they arise and when you are able to use your empathy to clearly see them. Therefore having empathy is such an important quality.

¨Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.¨ 
Barack Obama

Ways to communicate better with empathy

Power communicators are able to listen, write and share while adapting their voice to empathise with others. It’s important to develop your skills and to understand your co-workers better. Great communicators have advanced ¨people¨ skills and these can be seen through their communication. By having empathy skills you will be seen as more approachable, caring and trustworthy.

Listen - Listening is part of communication and one that we often need to get better at. In order to succeed you must be able to listen, adapt and reach your objectives even if you need to make changes along the way. By listening you can adapt, create better relationships and relate better to others. Leaders are able to listen and seize opportunities through their listening skills in combination with relating to the speaker though empathy.

Reach out - In your outward communication you should portray compassion and selflessness. A genuine and relevant voice and tone throughout your content can portray a real human being behind your work. This genuineness is a sign of powerful communication, as you not only are able to get your point across but also your true feelings or opinions while taking into consideration how others will respond. Great communicators consider their audience and reach out accordingly taking their opinions and views in mind to write considerately and diplomatically.

Share - Communication also requires responding accordingly and sharing. Supporting others is a requirement to succeed. This characteristic of empathy is especially important to leaders who want to succeed. Clients, employees and partners all require empathy through the sharing, responding and understanding in communication.

How leadership must be flexible to take on the future

The basic quality of empathy in leaders is not enough alone itself, you must also be flexible. Flexibility is not only needed to make a great leader but in order to make the right business decisions you must be flexible.

¨Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.¨ 
Tony Robbins

Start-ups are ever changing and change according to the likes and desires of users, production capabilities, available knowledge, pricing, rules and regulations, desires and much more. To make such changes, and changing often as is the case with start-ups, flexibility combined with empathy is a must. You have to know how to think outside of only your viewpoint, you must adapt, change and be understanding.

beBee has continuously changed as it adapted to the users wants and needs along with new technologies, new methods, objectives, slogans, concepts, ideas. Start-ups really have a never ending array of decisions to be made, it’s a matter of choosing the right path to reach the development of the product or service that you are able to.

At beBee often empathy and flexibility have gone hand in hand while dealing with employees, clients, influencers, ambassadors and most importantly the users. We listen to what our users have to say about beBee, how we can improve and what changes they want to see in the future.

Without our users, there would be no product. Our users are our key and priority. The evolution of beBee grows and adapts with its users. Flexibility has allowed us to meet our objectives with slight changes along the way while staying responsive to our users. As beBee progresses we will continue to tweak our business model to adapt to the times and desires of our users.

Our pitch has also changed over time for investors and VCs as has our service and focus for our users. A startup needs to be flexible and understanding. Leaders must understand that part of success is change. Even once you succeed or reach stability through profits you will need to be flexible to change because as time passes so do past technologies, user behaviour, markets, social habits,                                                                                             

¨If you don’t talk to your customers, how will you know how to talk to your customers?¨
Will Evans, Design Thinker in Residence at NYU Stern

Like other successful tech pivots, beBee has had it’s fair share of pivots

Like other tech start ups, beBee has had to go through various pivots. beBee has changed over time to meet the needs of our users. beBee aims to offer uses a friendly, beneficial and value added experience to successfully promote your personal brand.

beBee’s pivots have enabled additional growth through new channels and means. Our decision to open a New York office and hire talent in the US has added value to our company. We now have a growing team, reach in the US and are able to extend further afield. Our revenue channels have also changed over time as we have entered new markets and can monetise through different ways.

While we have had to make decisions to make pivots along the way, we have had to stay flexible and positive. Had we not made these pivots, we would have lost opportunities and would not have reached such growth as we have experienced. Tech companies must be flexible and pivot when needed.

As technology changes, customer behaviour changes and thus startups have to adapt. Pivoting is a part of being a startup. Leaders and entrepreneurs who can face pivoting with great flexibility and empathy are the most likely to succeed. ¨Startups that pivot once or twice times raise 2.5x more money.¨

Start-ups in the tech industry, just like beBee, have faced challenges and have had to change strategy over time to pivot. Through these times of change a clear focus to succeed combined with flexibility and empathy for all situations has allowed success. It’s important that leaders understand that there are changes in the business situation and markets that will force difficult decisions to be made. These decisions need understanding and compromise in order to build a strong company.

In this fast paced society and competitive marketplace, leadership skills such as flexibility and empathy are the skills required to make the best decisions and to take advantage of opportunity. Great leaders have the ability to use the traits in communicating in an advantageous way to their employees, team, partners and users.

Harvey Lloyd Jun 5, 2017 · #25

I believe that you have discussed the finer points of true leadership qualities. I do believe that empathy and flexibility are a part of the success dynamic. I would want to add to the matrix "motivation". Empathy and flexibility will eventually reveal the motivation for the application of these skills. Nothing is more devastating to learn that what was perceived as empathy or flexibility turns out to be a power play by the individual executing the skill.

The genuine care of another individual and their success has to be the bases for empathy. Even to the point of self sacrifice. Empathy is something we can use to determine if our journeys align, fully understanding each other's motives can establish a trust to go forward or a trust that it can't work out.

Having watched many of my younger contemporaries exercise the skill of empathy and flexibility with no/poor/understanding, motives of why, ends in disaster. Discussing in an empathetic way how the team can help a member grow while they help others is the true essence of empathy.

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Lynne Black Jun 5, 2017 · #24

Juan, Excellent article with a lot of good points for anyone in business.

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Michele Williams Jun 5, 2017 · #23

Tweeted. Great insights, Juan!

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Jamil Ahmed Jun 3, 2017 · #22

This is awesome.

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Melissa Hughes Jun 2, 2017 · #20

Great piece! Thank you!

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Jordan Sands Jun 2, 2017 · #19

Brilliant post Fatima.

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Totally agree - it is the social, emotional, group, interpersonal and group skills that make a difference. It is a choice to become more aware and incr see our capabilities in these areas. High tech needs high touch

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